Building capacity in wetland centres through staff exchanges


It is the end of a two-month internship in Switzerland for Ms Ghania Omari, a young educator from the wetland education centre at the Lac de Réghaïa Ramsar Site in Algeria. Ghania took a day off from her internship at Champ–Pittet wetland centre located in the Rive Sud du Lac de Neuchâtel (Grande Cariçaie) Ramsar Site to come and visit the Ramsar Secretariat in Gland and tell us what she has been doing during her internship and also to make a presentation to staff on the Ramsar Site and its education centre.

Ghania (right) and Sandra Hails, looking at the customization of the Ramsar game

Champ-Pittet is managed by Pro Natura, a Swiss NGO, and the internship they offered has brought immense benefits to Ghania and ultimately to the Réghaïa Wetland Centre. During the internship, working visits were arranged to the Sempach Swiss Ornithological Institute to learn about their bird ringing programme (a possible development for the future at the Réghaïa centre) and the La Sauge visitor centre (managed by ASPO/Birdlife Switzerland), together adding breadth to Ghania’s experience.

With the Algerian government who now fund the Réghaïa centre agreeing to cover her airfare and her salary during the visit, and Champ-Pittet covering her accommodation, living and transport costs in Switzerland, overall no-one has carried a large financial burden yet the benefits to Ghania and to her centre are huge – here’s what Ghania has to say of her experience:

“I work at the Centre for Wetland Education and Public Awareness at the Lac de Réghaia Ramsar Site, which has been developed through the initial financial support of WWF International’s Freshwater Programme. Through the partnership with Pro Natura Switzerland at Champ-Pittet and my centre, I had the opportunity to follow a two-month course at Champ-Pittet focused on modern methods and techniques for communication, environmental education, and public awareness.

Amalia Romeo, Ghania and Wendy Strahm

This course allowed me to acquire a broad understanding of many theoretical and practical aspects of welcoming groups and organizing activities for children about the natural world. I also received training in managing reception areas at centres, in managing exhibitions, and in maintaining ecological laboratories. I am looking forward to using this experience and applying my new skills back at our centre in Algeria to develop new educational activities.”

Ghania and Anada Tiéga, Secretary General of the Ramsar ConventionRamsar staff, meeting with Ghania (also present Amalia Romeo and Denis Landenbergue, WWF)

We hope that this short story of a successful exchange between wetland centres will encourage other countries and centres to consider this kind of cost-effective capacity-building initiative!

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